2013 College Football Preview: Ball State Cardinals (VIDEO)

By Dean Pantazi - 21Alive
By Eric Dutkiewicz - 21Alive

August 26, 2013 Updated Aug 26, 2013 at 10:47 AM EDT

MUNCIE, Ind. (21Alive) - Ball State University's football program once again has a blue print for success to use heading in to the 2013 season.

The Cardinals finished 9-4 with a trip to the Beef O'Brady's Bowl, losing to Central Florida. But BSU understands the importance of staying on the winning track.

"We set high goals for ourselves," wide receiver Willie Snead says. "We're capable of doing big things this year. If you set high goals for yourself, it allows you to work harder. And hopefully that hard work will pay off this year."

The hard work began in the offseason, and included quarteback Keith Wenning recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this month. Wenning is expected to be ready for the regular season.

"Do a lot of the same stuff: passing and running," Wenning says. "Some little things will be changed here and there. But that's just game planning here and there. But for the most part, things will be the same."

Wenning passed for nearly 3,100 yards and 24 touchdowns last year. Snead returns at wideout, coming off a sophomore season when he caught 9 touchdowns. In the backfield, running back Jahwan Edwards returns after a 1,400-yard and 14-touchdown 2012. The offensive line has many new faces, and will be tested early.

"We've got to replace, basically, the entire offensive line," third-year head coach Pete Lembo says. "Our skill guys are all back, and a lot of those have become household names around here. But that offensive line is going to be a critical piece of the puzzle."

Defensively, Ball State expects to improve from a unit ranked 102nd in the nation a year ago.

"We're quicker back on the safety end. The D-line is more experienced. We have athletic linebackers," defensive tackle Nate Ollie says.

Ball State kicks off its season Thursday at home against Illinois State, which the Cards hope provide an opportunity to really get out of the gates early.

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